The structural features, biocompatibility, and mechanical performance of a titania (TiO2) layer with incorporated zirconia (ZrO2) formed by microarc oxidation on commercially pure titanium have been examined in the present study. In comparison to the ZrO2-free TiO2 layer, the ZrO2-incorporated oxide layer was dense and contained ZrTiO4 as a new oxide as well as ZrO2 particles. Associated changes in the microstructure enhanced the mechanical durability of TiO2 layer. Owing to the incorporation of identical biocompatible compounds and almost similar surface roughness, no remarkable difference in bioactivities of the ZrO2-free and ZrO2- incorporated oxide layers was detected after simulated body fluid tests. Copyright (C) 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.